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#391341 - Sun Feb 03 2013 03:41 PM A Guide to Light Tins
lordparaffin Offline
Petro Enthusiast

Registered: Tue Mar 23 2004
Loc: Sunbury, PA, USA
Well after much debate with myself and preparation I'm finally off and running. Flash back nearly 10 years ago when I bought some of my first auto/petroliana related items, a couple of these tins were among the first purchases I ever made. You may ask why and I can only respond with that they have their charms. In the beginning I wasn't a "specialized" collector as of yet. That's kind of a funny term really.....I consider myself a can collector but I have some globes, a pump in mid restoration, a number of signs, and a various other odds and ends all adding up to a generalized collection. I know many of you can relate to this dilemma. Well, we're getting off track here. As I stated, they have their charms and at the time, their small size was helpful and I liked some of the graphics they offered. I'll admit, they seemed like a very limited potential but as time goes by I keep slowly coming across new one's and Ebay (like it, hate it) has been the biggest source of my aquisitions. As of today the collection now totals 61 pieces with a number of documented pieces that I have yet to attain. Price has always made these attractive as well. Agreed, these are more of a niche collectible so the numbers of collectors are much smaller than the main stream items so prices aren't in the stratosphere realted to supply and demand pressures. Budget minded people can easily put together 20 or so tins and not spend more than a couple hundred. Prices can range from a couple of bucks for average regular pieces to over a hundred for the more limited, in demand tins making for some challenges.

Now the reasons behind my contribution to the hobby. I think it's fair to say that most collectors have one or two of these in their collections but most people don't see these as a serious collectible and for reason. Generally you see the same typical one's time and a again which gives the impression of few choices. After some time looking at these, I began to notice changes in evolutionary graphics as well as the number of different sources for them. I've realized that there is no literature of any kind on them as a resource for collecting. I've noticed ways in which these are sold making them incorrect or dates put to them which is all over the map and nothing that guides people properly without the mistakes that I've made. Let's face it, no matter what level you collect at, spending money on something that is wrong or incorrect puts us all in a foul mood. At some point, I thought it would be neat to compile some kind of history and pictorial giving collectors the knowlege to be better, more focused with their purchases and selections. I always thought this would all converge into a small book or pamphlet but it was never my intention to make any money from such an adventure. Not that there's anything wrong with that. There's a number of books on the hobby and their authors deserve credit for a lot of work. I want to make a contribution for all those that have helped me over the years and maybe create more interest in this wonderful hobby of petroliana. So please, if for nothing else, take the time view this little labor of love of mine and learn about something new. I'll gladly entertain any questions and answer them to the best of my ability. I'm not an expert by any means, so I welcome new information which I hope will make this an evolving guide. Any new undocumented tins that you may have even variations, will be welcome additions. I have nearly 200 pictures to put on here for the purpose of thorough documentation and identification which is crucial for any collector to be informed. When I finally reach the end of my initial presentation, I will be asking for individuals to load photos in a section of displays and advertising to which I know there are some truely remarkable items in collections from the current membership. I've never had the means to focus on all these items so I look for help to make this thread truely complete to my original hopes, dreams, and ambitions.

As stated before, I'm not an expert but if have spent a fair amount of time doing research and countless hours searching the web to dead ends trying to piece together a history. What I found was a "backdoor" aproach through the light bulbs themselves was more helpful. I guess packaging was just that....packaging. SO......you piece things together the best way you can. I'll start with a light history/break down and split things up into chapters so to speak to group "like" things together into sections.



My current collection. A picture to break up all the reading and show the potential that I've realized. When I made the shelf unit, I made it thinking I had room to expand to the "maximum". As you can see it's full and I have many others to obtain yet.



Prior to the age of the tins we are talking about, light bulbs were generally found in a stamped steel presentation such as this one by GE National.




Before this, bulbs from across different, or even within manufacturers, were not very universal in terms of light intensity, materials, and manufacturing standards. GE introduced the "MAZDA" bulb or lamp with a patent date of 1909 with the name Mazda chosen in refernce to a god of mythology named Ahuru Mazda, god of light. The mazda bulb was universal for all bulbs made under a new set of standrds developed by GE using a Tungsten filament which was more uniform from light to light. GE introduced a set of manufacturing specifications for the industry to follow thereby "universalizing" the bulb industry. GE licensed these standards to other manufacturers with GE heavily advetising the Mazda brand. The earliest patent dates I find for automobile lights is patent number 1,082,933 Dec. 30, 1913. Remember, this new standard described the base, filament, manufacturing processes and light intensities giving consumers a higher degree of confidence in bulbs for home, office, or auto as long as it was a Mazda name. GE even regulated the use of the Mazda name. If working was descriptive such as Whiter, it was placed in front of Mazda. If it related to bulb use such as auto, then it must follow the Mazda name. When the change to the new tins took place exactly, is something I can't seem to nail to a specific date. I can tell you through the auto industry, evidence suggests that as early as 1929 these tins were in use. Some help from car enthusiasts verify catalog listings from 1932 and dealer listings show 1931 as an available accessory earliest time frame. Basic tool kit accessories show listings until 1949 which is also verified from Harley Davidson enthusiasts showing one kit as a part of a kit pack through the war years. As a conclusion, I always accept 1929 through 1949 as the known high tide of production. There may be a time period before earlier or later they were in production, but this was on the low scale end as the 1950's began the era of the sealed beam head lamp. It is my understanding, that the earliest of these bulbs had a series of rib-like circular shapes out near the top of the bulbs to help concentrate the light toward the reflectors from proper beam alignment. I cannot verify this concretely however.

Sizes of these tins are generally of the samller 3 5/8L x 2 9/16W x 1 3/4H in inches variety. There is a larger sized kit which is 4 1/6 x 2 9/16 x 2 1/4. Among these 2 most common sizes there are also some exceptions.





The 2 basic styles of all square tins to date are hinged or unhinged.



I believe we'll end this section here and I will move on the next section in a day or 2.
_________________________
........Dave
___________________________________________________
Looking for old, rare, auto light bulb tins

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Please - NO offers to Buy or Sell in this forum category

Statements such as, "I'm thinking about selling this." are considered an offer to sell.
#391347 - Sun Feb 03 2013 03:52 PM Re: A Guide to Light Tins [Re: lordparaffin]
danlap99 Offline
Petro Enthusiast

Registered: Mon Jan 21 2002
Loc: Easley,SC USA
great looking collection !!!!!!

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#391353 - Sun Feb 03 2013 04:00 PM Re: A Guide to Light Tins [Re: danlap99]
advertologist Offline
Veteran Member

Registered: Fri Sep 07 2007
Loc: So. Ca.
amazing.. cool
_________________________
RANDY

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#391354 - Sun Feb 03 2013 04:00 PM Re: A Guide to Light Tins [Re: lordparaffin]
Maps for the memories Offline
Petro Enthusiast

Registered: Thu Jul 06 2006
Loc: Midwest
Great posting so far!

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#391355 - Sun Feb 03 2013 04:06 PM Re: A Guide to Light Tins [Re: Maps for the memories]
LOWright Offline
Veteran Member

Registered: Fri Feb 19 2010
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Interesting! Nice collection…….Here is the only one i have and looks like you already have one in your collection.


Attachments
Packard Bulb Tin.jpg




Edited by LOWright (Sun Feb 03 2013 04:54 PM)
_________________________
Rare pumps, Chevrolet items, Goldon Tip Gasoline, Marathon (running man)
Cell # 1-502-396-3435 email lowright@aol.com

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#391364 - Sun Feb 03 2013 04:28 PM Re: A Guide to Light Tins [Re: LOWright]
57tbirdkid Offline
TBA Feature Host

Registered: Tue May 04 2010
Loc: NY
Thanks for the great pics and info. About 1 year ago at a local swap meet I was able to pick up this paper label light box. I have never seen one before and the vendor said he has been taking it to swap meets for yearts and no one had any interest. I thought it was a great little item and cant see that many of the held up as they are pretty fragile. Here is a pic to add to your great post.
_________________________
The most valuable commodity I know of is information-Wall Street

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#391365 - Sun Feb 03 2013 04:30 PM Re: A Guide to Light Tins [Re: LOWright]
blacktee Offline
Veteran Member

Registered: Mon Jan 17 2005
Loc: Saline, Mi USA
I see the Love you have for collecting these, and being an electrician I look forward to your next post.

Thanks Doug

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#391366 - Sun Feb 03 2013 04:32 PM Re: A Guide to Light Tins [Re: blacktee]
oldnfuelish Offline
FATW Feature Host

Registered: Wed Nov 02 2005
Loc: Antioch,IL
Awesome collection,and info!
_________________________
Looking for gas,oil related clocks,especially neon and spinners .clock repair available. Mick

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#391368 - Sun Feb 03 2013 04:32 PM Re: A Guide to Light Tins [Re: LOWright]
Jack R Offline
Veteran Member

Registered: Fri Feb 27 2004
Loc: Las Vegas, Nevada
Very nice collection and looking forward to the the rest of your presentation

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#391379 - Sun Feb 03 2013 04:51 PM Re: A Guide to Light Tins [Re: Jack R]
Bob Richards Online   happy
Veteran Member

Registered: Tue Feb 22 2005
Loc: Longview, WA
Dave, as you know, I have been waiting for you to do this presentation for a number of years...

I will be saving this thread in my "Bookmarks". And if you ever decide to put forth a pamphlet and/or small booklet, I will be proud to add it to my "reference library"!

I personally thank you for this "history" and for your help in my collecting of these tins and lamps!!!
_________________________
Looking for Tide Water/ Tide Water-Associated/ Tidewater items

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#391457 - Sun Feb 03 2013 08:10 PM Re: A Guide to Light Tins [Re: Bob Richards]
Rust and Dust Offline
Petro Enthusiast

Registered: Mon Sep 10 2012
Loc: Georgia
As a huge novice in the petro collecting i love this. This is something that id never really thought about. Im a sign gas pump guy. But i think its the niche items in petroliana that make our hobby so interesting. Love it thanks for the info.
_________________________
Hunt long and hard the good stuff still out there.
Jonathan lowry.

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#391503 - Sun Feb 03 2013 10:21 PM Re: A Guide to Light Tins [Re: Rust and Dust]
JimT Offline
Veteran Member

Registered: Fri Dec 06 2002
Loc: Cleveland,Ohio U.S.A.
Great stuff here Dave. Thanks a lot for freely sharing your knowledge. Looking forward to some more.

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#391512 - Sun Feb 03 2013 10:52 PM Re: A Guide to Light Tins [Re: lordparaffin]
1937 GMC Offline
Petro Enthusiast

Registered: Fri Apr 22 2011
Loc: DFW Texas
Thank you for taking the time to share your research and knowledge; your passion for the Hobby really shows in your information and collection. Looking forward to the additions that are forth coming.

Thanks again!
_________________________
Buying: Polarine / Red Crown Gasoline Globes and Signs, Early Chevrolet & United Motors Signs, and 1910's through 1940's Gas & Oil Signs.

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#391529 - Mon Feb 04 2013 12:59 AM Re: A Guide to Light Tins [Re: 1937 GMC]
Dave's Garage Offline
Veteran Member

Registered: Mon Dec 05 2011
Loc: Abbotsford, British Columbia, ...
Great information and an awesome collection!!!
_________________________
Dave GILL,
Dave's Garage & Memorabilia, Inc.

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#391615 - Mon Feb 04 2013 12:47 PM Re: A Guide to Light Tins [Re: Dave's Garage]
lordparaffin Offline
Petro Enthusiast

Registered: Tue Mar 23 2004
Loc: Sunbury, PA, USA
Thanks everyone for the positive words and it's great to hear you're appreciation.

Now moving forward. I showed a picture earlier of tins that don't fit the normal sizes or shapes of the tin sizes already mentioned. The little square Westinghouse tin measures 2 13/16" square x 1 13/16" tall. The Eveready tube is 4 1/2" long x 1 1/2" in dia. while the "glass case" for Eveready is 5 1/4" at it's longest x 2 1/2" wide and 1 1/2" tall. The Osram is a British tin 4 1/16L x 2 7/8"W x 1 13/16"H. I have found markings by all the major tin can manufacturers of the day and even some smaller companies so the measurements given are the closest average sizes +/- 1/16" depending on the style of lid. I generally make my measurements across the bottom edges because these are the most uniform dimensionally from tin to tin. I also should mention that recently I came across another "tube" style tin from another bulb manufacturer but I was not able to attain it and at this point those are measurements that will be left with a question mark. Tung Sol is the company that marketed the tin.

When collecting these tins, I suppose there are 2 methods of madness to collecting. Those of us that are ultimately after completeness and those that aren't concerned with interiors. Either way is just fine. I myself find the challenge of collecting complete tins most interesting to say the least. I place a premium on a complete AND CORRECT tins with interior. After looking at and studying thousands of these, you tend to get a feel for what should be as opposed to what is. I liken this to pump collectors who are archivalists and like complete and whole pumps or quart can collectors who prize full unopened cans of oil. When I mention complete tins, I don't necessarily mean all original or to put it another way, contents and tin have been together since day one. Complete CORRECT tins is the goal. If you restore a pump and need parts from another pump to complete the build it is still a correct pump. Same concept....If I complete a tin with contents from another tin making it correct, this makes for a complete and correct tin. Remember, these tins were kits to be generally carried in the auto to replace bulbs as they blew. The tins themselves took a lot of abuse either in a glove box, under the seat, or where ever in the trunk on the early rough roads of the day. Bulbs got used, new one's were purchased to replace the replacements (not necessarily the same brand of bulb) and these were put into the tins for safe keeping until needed again. So mix and match was common, interior cardboard holders were often lost, many times tins found themselves on shelves with a host of loose bulbs in them or eventually repurposed for any kind of trinkets. Nice little tins with lids had all kinds of useful needs which makes collecting them at all challenging. Pictured below are examples I put together of improper interiors but not limited to. Of late I'm finding people making new sleeves, new inserts which are used to section the interiors and hold the bulb contents in place. Or if they have a case box of bulbs from another brand, they just place whatever brand they have in the tins to make them appear complete.




Most commonly you find mixed branding. Either mixed within the tin as the Westinghouse and GE National example above or completely wrong branding within, not matching the tin branding. People sell these tins all the time expressing that they are "with bulbs" or "complete" and expecting a premium price. In the end it boils down to this. It's about the tin and correctness. The bulbs themselves are secondary. A box of loose bulbs are completely useless to me as a tin collector unless I know someone who needs those bulbs. I will show complete/correct tins later on with each example that I currently have. It's very tough to come up with these tins so piecing together is acceptable. Make sure that bulb themselves are correct if part numbers on the tins are given.....usually this is on tins found with paper labels. A Tung Sol branded tin with Tung Sol branded bulb sleeves and GE bulbs is not correct. Every layer must match hence the reason for a premium on correct tins. Of the total tins in my collection, less than 10 are correct and complete.

CONDITION, Condition , Condtion!!! Like anything else, this is the number one factor in how much I'm willing to spend. Rarity follows and desireability are next in determining value. It is not my intent with this guide to establish a market set of values. Prices on any given day can be all over the map. I will give an idea on expectations by showing a range of prices I have experienced which will include most collectible conditions. I can't stress enough that time and patience are key to putting together a comprehensive collection. I've missed out on tins thinking the condition was less then desireable only to lose the auction and then not see another for several years. The point here is that I'm willing to guide people to make an educated decision on what THEY are willing to pay or sell at but I'm not going to start setting market prices and create disappointments. I've always been a firm believer that homework, and watching what auction prices produce, are the best indicators as to current market values.

As a follow up, these tins were very utilitarian and they age anywhere (in the vast majority of cases) from 60 to 80 years old so time and treatment has not been kind to them creating very few excellent to near perfect examples. This creates the first challenge. Second, if you're after a true challenge, putting together complete/correct tins will be a lifetime of work. That's what keeps me going!!

I'll be showcasing these in groups. Group 1 will be bulb manufacturers. Group 2- (my favorite) auto parts dealers. Group 3- Auto manufacturers.

These tins could be found for sale (back in the day) in any number of places including gas stations, parts stores, and even general merchandise or hardware stores so marketing and display took many forms. We'll start with manufacturers because that was most likely where the tins got their start.

Of course GE started the whole Mazda thing so lets begin there. It's my belief that this was their first tin.



It's not known exactly if all tins were given a paper seal which came with a kit number. Kit numbers represented a specific bulb grouping by part numbers. As of this time, I am aware of kits 1-7 and I've only ever seen #7 once. The most common seem to be on the #3 thru #5 range. I noted on tins with paper labels, some kind of glue or residue usually lasts long enough to indicate it was there at one time. Most of the label may be gone, but the evidence is there. It's my educated guess that not all tins had these paper labels. I have a attempted to put together one complete label grouping with legible numbers from any brand with no success as of yet. You can make yourself a real challenge on this alone. I know the Westinghouse, GE Edison, and National tins all has labels on some of their tins so there's plenty to choose from.
This is the early tin with label #4 with it's correct and I believe all original interior. It is at the very least correct.


_________________________
........Dave
___________________________________________________
Looking for old, rare, auto light bulb tins

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